Although the disruption of the music industry has certainly made life easier for consumers, in many ways, it has made things needlessly difficult for highly valued artists — especially when it comes to making a decent living. Online streaming has now replaced both CD and MP3 purchases. Even mainstream, household-name artists make only pennies per listen. So imagine being the little guy!
That’s what Roy LaManna, CEO of the Monmouth County-based media tech startup Vydia, was probably thinking when he started the company. Vydia’s digital platform helps musicians monetize and manage their online video content in one place, while its audio-to-video creation tools and data-driven analytics suite help the artists generate higher revenues.
Since incorporating, the startup has partnered with major video outlets like VEVO, YouTube and Dailymotion, to help musicians get the kind of paycheck they deserve from online video streaming. Among the high-profile artists using the platform are Tom DeLonge (formerly of Blink-182) and the Def Jam rapper Fabolous.
Company name: Vydia, Inc.
When did you launch the company? We launched our private beta on May 15th, 2014.
CEO: Roy LaManna
New Jersey location: Freehold
Team: Roy LaManna (CEO), Christopher Donohue (COO), Mark Allen (CTO)
Any employees yet? Yes, 23
Funding: We’ve raised just shy of $1 million from Pasadena Angels, Paradigm Talent, SG Ventures, QueensBridge Venture Partners and several music industry executives. We’re currently preparing for our Series A.
Market you are serving: We are currently serving musicians of all levels. With the company’s analytics dashboard, they can easily see how much they’re earning and segment it by location and device.
1. What is your New Jersey connection? What brought you to New Jersey, and do you plan to stay here?
I was raised in Middletown and have been here almost my entire life. I plan to stay here as long as the area supports me. I’ve found it difficult to find developer talent in the area, which has forced me to expand to New York and Los Angeles.
2. What problem are you solving?
The whole music and video industry is moving direct to consumer. We empower these creators to maximize their revenue and at the same time maximize efficiency.
3. Why can you address this problem better than anyone else?
I have 15 years of video marketing experience and have consulted artists at all levels. This experience has allowed me to see the pain points from multiple angles. Our platform solves the issues that only artists understand.
4. How did you come up with your startup name?
I came up with the name while at the SXSW convention. I wanted it to be unique, short and have an available .com domain. Vydia fit that criteria.
5. What was the biggest mistake you’ve made so far in your entrepreneurial journey, and what did you learn from it?
Everything I’ve learned has been from making mistakes, and I’ve made many of them. However, the biggest mistake I’ve made is not going with my instincts. I’ve learned to always go with my instincts, believe in my path and find people who align with my vision.
6. When was the last time you thought about quitting your startup and going back to corporate life, or doing something else? What got you to stay?
I’ve never worked a typical 9-5, so I don’t ever think about it. I’ve been self-employed since 19 and can’t image ever changing it. I rarely wear shoes in the office. I don’t think that would fly in a corporate environment.
7. If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
I never think in these terms. Each mistake I make is a learning experience, and without them, I wouldn’t understand the correct path. Things have worked out nicely for me, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
8. What’s the best place to find founders to network with?
I like attending meetups. I feel it’s a great way to connect with other tech founders.
9. What does your family think about you being an entrepreneur?
My wife believes in me unconditionally. Sometimes more than I believe in myself. Whenever I stress about something, her answer is always a calm, “You’ll figure it out, you always do.” At the time it sometimes drives me crazy, but in the long run, it’s much better to have a cool head when things are stressful.
10. What has helped you the most to achieve your current success?
I don’t think I could pinpoint one individual. I’ve always believed that when you’re the smartest person in the room, it’s time to leave the room. I constantly seek out smart people and try to learn from them. The next best thing to learning from your mistakes is learning from the mistakes of others.